“You Are My Mother”
1 January 2021
Numbers 6:22-27; Psalm 66; Galatians 4:4-7; Luke 2:16-21
Today we have a triple celebration. It’s the fiscal New Year. In the Church, we celebrate the Motherhood of Mary. It’s also the 54th World Day of Prayer for Peace.
As I thanked my sisters when they greeted me on my birthday, I proposed that they also greet our mother Happy Mother’s Day. Being the third child, it was motherhood thrice over for our beloved Inay Luz. Yes, at every birthday the family should also celebrate mother’s day.
This is what we are doing today. As we celebrate the Lord’s birthday, on this eighth day, the Octave of Christmas, we do not just welcome another fiscal year, we in the Church, celebrate the Motherhood of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The Holy Virgin is truly the Mother of God since according to the flesh she brought forth the Word of God made flesh. Mary’s divine motherhood was proclaimed at the Council of Ephesus in 431, when she was hailed as Theotokos – God-bearer. This is the reason why we hold Mary in such reverence. From it emanates all her other titles. This First Dogma is the foundation of all other dogmas or articles of Faith we hold about Mary: her Perpetual Virginity that tells that Christ’s birth did not diminish Mary’s virginal integrity but sanctified it, as affirmed in 649 at the Lateran Council; her Immaculate Conception, and her glorious Assumption into heaven. It was in view of her becoming the mother of Christ that Mary, that from the first moment of her conception by her mother St. Anne, “by a singular grace and privilege from Almighty God and in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, was kept free of every stain of original sin.” She was the only recipient of the anticipated grace of Christ’s redemptive act as defined by Pope Pius IX on Dec 8, 1854. Were it not for her becoming the mother of God, she would not have been privileged to be assumed into heaven body and soul and crowned as Queen of Heaven and Earth, as we honor her in the Fifth Glorious Mystery of the Holy Rosary, and as proclaimed by Pope Pius XII only in 1950, though it had been part of the Church’s spiritual and doctrinal patrimony for centuries.
“You are my mother.” It was the Lord Jesus Christ who first addressed this to Mary. It all began when Mary first said yes to God at the Archangel Gabriel’s bidding, at the Annunciation, the First Joyful Mystery of the Holy Rosary. At this Mary, entered a unique relationship with the Triune God. With God the Father, as a creature like all of us, she humbly called herself the handmaid of God- most willing to do only His will. With God the Son, she is the mother. With the Holy Spirit, Mary is a spouse who conceived Jesus and enabled him to take human flesh as he gestated in her womb just like anyone of us. Along with Joseph, the Lord’s earthly foster Father – Pater Putativus, Mary nurtured her Son Jesus into maturity in body and spirit, prepared Him for his ministry, and even called for its public inauguration at the wedding in Cana. Mary silently stood by Jesus through all his ministry, through all his passion and death on the cross, buried him, welcomed him at his Resurrection, and sent him off at his Ascension into heaven.
“You are my mother.” John was second to address this to Mary. While hanging on the cross, Jesus entrusted his beloved mother Mary to John. From then on John took Mary to his home, as the Evangelist noted. Likewise, from the cross, Jesus entrusted John to her care. This we believe, also encompasses all the faithful. At the foot of the cross, Mary became a mother to us all.
“You are my mother.” Pope St John Paul II also addressed Mary as such when he lost his mother as a child of 8 years old, entrusting himself to her care.
“You are my mother.” Now, it’s our turn to address Mary as Jesus did, as St John the Beloved did, as also the young Karol Woytyla did. Indeed, Mary, upon fulfilling all her earthly tasks did not abandon her motherhood for us even after being assumed into heaven. For in heaven she continues to be a mother to us all. Vatican II, in Lumen Gentium, affirms that “by her maternal love she cares for the brothers and sisters of her Son who still journey on earth.”
“You are my mother.” Yes, as Cistercians here at the Monastery of Our Lady of Mepkin, we also call Mary our mother. All Cistercian monasteries are under her Patronage. We can surely count on Mary to nurture us in our Christian life of faith as expressed in our monastic life.
At this 54th World Day of Prayer for Peace, in the midst of the “massive Covid-19 health crisis, which became a global phenomenon cutting across boundaries, aggravating deeply interrelated crises like those of the climate, food, the economy and migration, and causing great suffering and hardship… the surge in various forms of nationalism, racism and xenophobia, and wars and conflicts that bring only death and destruction,” our Holy Father, Pope Francis calls on us to A Culture of Care as a Path to Peace. A culture of care as a way to combat the culture of indifference, waste and confrontation so prevalent in our time.”
“You are my mother.” We especially turn to Mary. So, through her intercession, we beg God to also bless us with Mary’s sense of loving care so we too can humbly and generously care for each other and all of creation, and fulfill our Christian ministry of leading all to God as followers of Christ. For truly, as Pope Francis concluded his message for today’s World Day of Prayer for Peace, “There can be no peace without a culture of care…As Christians, we should always look to Our Lady, Star of the Sea and Mother of Hope.” May we work together to advance towards a new horizon of love and peace, of fraternity and solidarity, of mutual support and acceptance. May we never yield to the temptation to disregard others, especially those in greatest need, and to look the other way; instead, may we strive daily, in concrete and practical ways, “to form a community composed of brothers and sisters who accept and care for one another”
O Mary, Mother of God, Pray for us.